" She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway. "
— Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon

MRQE Top Critic

Almost Famous

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Patrick Fugit is Almost Famous

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I’ve been to City Island, an outpost in Long Island Sound off the Bronx mainland. People live on City Island, where the waters are dotted with small boats, but most New Yorkers visit the place to frequent the local restaurants. Director Raymond de Felitta has a different reason for traveling to the island: For him, it’s a place to try his hand at ethnic comedy and outright farce.

New Yorkers retreat to City Island
New Yorkers retreat to City Island

Andy Garcia portrays Vinnie Rizzo, a prison guard who aspires to be an actor, but is afraid to tell his wife (Julianna Margulies) about his artistic ambitions. Vinnie receives encouragement from a woman (Emily Mortimer) in his acting class, which is taught by an amusing — if too briefly seen — Alan Arkin. Additional plot twists involving Vinnie’s family and their secrets aren’t entirely inspired. Vinnie’s daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) has dropped out of college without telling her parents and his wiseacre son (Ezra Miller) has an unusual obsession. The incident that drives the plot isn’t entirely compelling either: For reasons better left undiscovered here, Vinnie opens his home to a soon-to-be-paroled convict (Steven Strait).

De Felitta, who previously directed a small independent movie called Two Family House, isn’t the sharpest of farceurs, but the movie is pleasant enough and has a great scene in which Vinnie auditions for a Scorsese movie. Garcia, who seems thick in both girth and accent, doesn’t oversell Vinnie’s working-class charms; Marguilies never falters as Vinnie’s shrewish wife; and the whole business provides a few laughs without pretending to be much more than an evening’s entertainment.